Science, Maths & Technology

# Spray diagrams

Updated Monday, 21 June 2021
What are spray diagrams? How can you draw a spray diagram? This tutorial explains all you need to know...

## How to draw spray diagrams

Using the Working for Water Programme (WWP) case study...

## Diagram guidelines

### Purpose

Tony Buzan originally developed spray diagrams in 1974 together with mind maps, which look similar (Buzan, 1974). Spray diagrams are a simple, fast technique for extracting the important ideas from a situation, conversation, presentation or written article and getting them down on paper in a way that is meaningful to you. A spray diagram starts from a theme in the centre and the ideas arrange around that theme showing the connections or associations between the ideas. Sometimes it is useful to introduce a small number of sub-themes into which your subsequent ideas group.

### Elements

• A title describing the purpose of the diagram.
• Central circle for the main theme or topic.
• Blobs (not perfect circles) for sub-themes or sub-topics (optional).
• Branching sets of lines.
• Words on the lines or at the ends of the lines describing the various ideas you wish to incorporate.
• There are no arrows.

### Conventions

• Put the main theme or topic as a keyword or phrase in a central circle.
• Perhaps put rings around other key sub-themes.
• Related ideas expressed in one or a few words are attached to lines radiating from this circle (or optionally from the sub-themes or sub-topics creating fans).
• Write words along the lines or ends of lines.
• The lines do not show directional links, just an association.
• Use different colours to highlight particular fans.

### Guidelines

• Write down the central idea leaving space all around it.
• Identify branches from that idea that you want to explore further. Write them down around the central idea and link each to it with a straight line. Keep going by considering each branch to see if further branches (ideas) link to it.
• Express ideas in one or a few words.
• Start by working freely and then review the diagram to see whether the particular arrangement meets with your objective.
• If you are stuck or lose the thread, start again with a new central theme and create a new, perhaps subsidiary, diagram. Don’t clutter up the original. You could perhaps just leave things for a while to give you time for some fresh thinking.

References